This short and easy loop in the north end of Franklin Canyon Park is a great introduction to the area – and a reminder of what kinds of hidden gems are scattered all over the city. There are lots of opportunities to leave the reservoir loop to explore the park – or just sit by the shores and birdwatch, too. This is also where the opening to “The Andy Griffith Show” was filmed – as well as one of the sites of Camp Anawana from Nickelodeon’s “Salute Your Shorts.”
- Distance: 1.4 miles
- Elevation Gain: about 100 feet
- Time: 45 minutes
- Trail Condition: Very good. There are a lot of trails around the reservoir and very few of them are marked, but this is a pretty easy loop trail to follow.
- How To get There: This one’s gonna be a little tricky – there really aren’t any signs helping you out on the way to this park and cell service is very spotty. From Sunset Blvd. in Beverly Hills, head north on Beverly Drive. In 0.4 miles, take your third left to stay on Beverly Drive (even though street signs for Coldwater Canyon Blvd. are much more prominent). In 0.3 miles, you’ll reach an intersection at Coldwater Canyon Park on your left and a fire station on your right. Take a left at this light to stay on Beverly Drive. For the next 0.9 miles, Beverly Drive narrows into a residential street. After that 0.9 miles, you’ll come to a stop sign at another intersection. Take a right here onto Franklin Canyon Drive (look for the sign that says Road Closed in 1600 feet). Stay on Franklin Canyon Drive as it enters the park. After 1.1 miles, take a right onto Lake Drive (look for a park info sign and an old building on your right). There’s a small parking area just to the east of the house – and if it’s full you can park along the street further south. No passes or fees required.
*** NOTE *** There are many intersections in Franklin Canyon Park that have motion-sensor cameras at them. If you don’t come to a complete stop at the intersections you WILL get ticketed – and the fee is pretty large. Drive extra carefully in this park if you don’t want your hike to be ruined by a $175 ticket in the mail.
- Very close to Beverly Hills, West LA, West Hollywood, and Studio City
- Easy stroll around the reservoir
- Lots of birds and wildlife
- Access to other trails in the park, as well as the Nature Center
- The scene of many TV shows and movies, including The Andy Griffith Show
- on Flickr
On my initial trip to Franklin Canyon Park, I wanted to try to do a large loop that linked the southern and northern portions of the park together – but I was thwarted by some confusing maps and unsigned trails. Instead, I split my trip into two separate loop hikes.
This northern loop is shorter, flatter, and generally pretty easy all-around. For the purposes of this write up, I started on the ranch trail near the intersection of Lake Drive and Franklin Canyon Drive, but you could pretty much hop onto this loop from anywhere along the route. Parking is very limited at this intersection, but there’s plenty of room further north or south.
If you start at this intersection, across the street from the old building there’s a short wooden bridge over a creekbed. Cross it and continue climbing up into the shaded forest.
In a very short distance – about 225 feet – this spur trail intersects with the Ranch Trail at a sharp corner. Bear left to follow the trail north, parallel with Franklin Canyon Drive.
Here, the trail levels out a bit as it meanders through the woods toward the Upper Franklin Canyon Reservoir. This is a short but really lovely stretch of trail that at times doesn’t even feel like it’s in Southern California – and it certainly doesn’t feel right outside Beverly Hills.
Ignore the trail to your left at around the 0.3 mile mark and continue on the Ranch Trail until you end up at a street crossing near one of the park’s many motion-sensor traffic cameras.
Cross the intersection straight ahead toward the information sign and you’ll end up right along the shore of Upper Franklin Canyon Reservoir.
From here, the trail pretty much follows the shore of the reservoir around the entire body of water. When I went, there were a TON of birds – especially ducks – all over the place. And in many part of the trail, it felt like I was walking through a saltwater marsh somewhere on the coast, not near a reservoir in the middle of the mountains.
Also, if you’ve got a hankering to recreate the opening credits of The Andy Griffith Show, now’s the time to do it.
This path loops around the north side of the lake and leaves the shore on the west bank to rejoin the road after making its way through a small grove of evergreens. From here, you can cross the street and make a very short loop around Heavenly Pond, another favorite hangout for the local duck population.
After returning from Heavenly Pond, rejoin Franklin Canyon Drive and head south. You can either rejoin the trail at the intersection or just follow the road back to the intersection with Lake Drive.
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